It’s shaggy heart and soul versus close-cropped nerdy chic; power versus speed; defense versus hitting.
Andre Ethier recorded his sixth walk-off hit, most in the majors, and 30th home run on Sept. 15.
Matt Kemp recorded his 90th RBI on Sept. 11 and 90th run scored Sept. 18, one of only 15 players in the majors to reach both milestones this season, and the only one on the Dodgers.
Kemp has hit over .300 in four of the sixth months this season. Ethier has hit five or more home runs in four of the six months this season.
Kemp leads the team in runs scored with 93. Ethier leads the team in RBI with 101.
The LA Dodgers have all the young talent needed to create a dynasty. This year, two of their high-upside outfielders have had breakout seasons. But which is more valuable: Andre Ethier or Matt Kemp?
Let’s break down a few different sets of statistics to get a better picture.
Kemp has the better batting average, his .307 ranking 10th in the NL. However, Ethier beats him in the two more important categories of on-base and slugging, the latter ranking 15th in the NL.
Kemp: 25 HR, 95 RBI, 93 R, 34 SB
Ethier: 31 HR, 101 RBI, 88 R, 6 SB
Ethier is sixth in the NL in RBI with an impressive 101 and tied for ninth in HR with 31.
Kemp may not have as strong power numbers, but he holds the advantage in stolen bases, ranking third in the NL, and runs, ranking ninth in the NL.
Ethier is a better run producer, Kemp a better run scorer. Let’s call this one a tie.
Kemp: 5.2 UZR/150
Ethier: -14.6 UZR/150
This is a slam dunk for Kemp. Not only does he play the tougher position in center field, he does it a lot better, saving over five runs with his glove over 150 games, while Ethier is losing the Dodgers over 14 runs in right.
Kemp: 5.6 WAR, $25.1 million value
Ethier: 2.8 WAR, $12.8 million value
It looked close in the previous estimations, but when you take into account the positions they play—as WAR and monetary value (taken from FanGraphs) do—the answer becomes clear.
A five-tool center fielder who hits home runs, steals bases, and plays good defense is just more valuable than a slugging right fielder who can’t field—even if that slugging right fielder is a better overall hitter.
It’s just harder to find good-hitting center fielders.
Overall Advantage: Kemp
Luckily, Dodgers fans don’t need to make a choice. Ethier and Kemp are both young and talented and look like mainstays in the LA lineup for years to come.